Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Desmostachya bipinnata
(halfa grass)

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Datasheet

Desmostachya bipinnata (halfa grass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Desmostachya bipinnata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • halfa grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • D. bipinnata grows commonly and abundantly in fallow agricultural fields, along roadsides and on boundaries and bunds of agricultural fields on dry and sandy soils; it often forms dense tufts producing a dominating patch of plants. It is one of the h...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Excavated shoot of D. bipinnata held at ground level, Pakistan.
TitleExcavated shoot
CaptionExcavated shoot of D. bipinnata held at ground level, Pakistan.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Excavated shoot of D. bipinnata held at ground level, Pakistan.
Excavated shootExcavated shoot of D. bipinnata held at ground level, Pakistan.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
D. bipinnata infestation with flower heads, Pakistan.
TitleInfestation
CaptionD. bipinnata infestation with flower heads, Pakistan.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
D. bipinnata infestation with flower heads, Pakistan.
InfestationD. bipinnata infestation with flower heads, Pakistan.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Desmostachya bipinnata (L.) Stapf

Preferred Common Name

  • halfa grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Briza bipinnata L.
  • Desmostachya cynosuroides (Retz.) Stapf ex Mussery
  • Eragrostis bipinnata (L.) K. Schum.
  • Eragrostis cynosuroides (Retz.) Beauv.
  • Leptochloa bipinnata (L.) Hochst
  • Poa cynosuroides Retz.
  • Stapfiola bipinnata (L.) O. Ktze.
  • Uniola bipinnata L.

Local Common Names

  • India: daab; dhab; durva; kusa; kush; kusha

EPPO code

  • DETBI (Desmostachya bipinnata)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page D. bipinnata grows commonly and abundantly in fallow agricultural fields, along roadsides and on boundaries and bunds of agricultural fields on dry and sandy soils; it often forms dense tufts producing a dominating patch of plants. It is one of the hardiest and most aggressive weeds in agricultural fields growing either with the crop or on field margins. It is very difficult to manage or eradicate established populations because of the extensive and deep rhizomatous root system. Infestations of D. bipinnata in the introduced areas need to be removed by using appropriate mechanical and cultural techniques and controlling the spread of seeds, root slips and rhizomes as contaminants of crop seeds or forage crops. Control measures in infested areas include preventing grazing and ground disturbance to reduce spread. Herbicides can control this weed if different herbicides are used each year to prevent the development of herbicide resistance.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Desmostachya
  •                                 Species: Desmostachya bipinnata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Numerous synonyms have been used for Desmostachya bipinnata but there appears to be no confusion as to this as the preferred scientific name. However, on the basis of distinct morphological and reproductive characters, four new subspecies of D. bipinnata have been described by Pandeya and Pandeya (2002); subsp. longispiculata Amita Pandeya, subsp. jodhpurensis Amita Pandeya, subsp. sheelai Amita Pandeya, and subsp. agraensis Amita Pandeya. However, it is uncertain whether these subspecies represent actual genetic differences, as Pandeya and Pandeya (2002) also note the existence of biotypes of D. bipinnata occurring in response to soil and climatic conditions in western India. The species will be treated as a single undivided taxon for the purposes of this datasheet.

Description

Top of page It is a tall tufted, perennial rhizomatous grass, branching from the base, with stout, robust rhizomes, covered with shiny sheaths. Culms are rigid and herbaceous having glabrous nodes, covered at the base by leathery yellowish sheaths; varying in height from 30 to 150 cm. The stems are much branched, tufted and profusely rooted, and it branches from the rootstock, sending out rhizomes in all directions (Bhandari, 1990; Kaushik, 1983). The leaves are linear to linear-lanceolate, non-auriculate, acuminate and scarbid on the margins, without cross venation and persistent (Watson and Dallwitz, 1992). The leaf sheaths are glabrous, leaf blades flat or inrolled, tough, long acuminate. The inflorescence is an erect, spike-like panicle having 101-185 spikes per panicle (Pandeya and Pandeya, 2002). Each spike (rachis) is elliptic or elliptic-oblong consisting of a variable number of spikelets from 29 to 45. Spikelets are sessile, 3-10 mm long; compressed laterally and pale brown in colour during the rainy season. In each spikelet, there are 3-10 florets, floral glumes are ovate-lanceolate, lower glume 1-1.5 mm, upper glumes 1-2 mm; lemmas are ovate-lanceolate, palea keel scabrous.

Bhanwara (1986) described the female fertile spikelets as 4-6 mm long, adaxial, compressed laterally, with 6-16 female-fertile florets. Lemmas deltoid, papery and leathery entire, pointed, awnless, hairless, glabrous carinate, 3 nerved. Palea present, relatively long, apically notched and 2 nerved. Lodicules present 2, free, fleshy and glabrous. Stamens are three, which split longitudinally. Anthers are non-penicillate, ovary glabrous and stigmas two. The fruit is free from lemma and pallea, ellipsoid, compressed dorso-ventrally. Hilum is short, pericarp fused, and embryo large, not waisted. Seeds are obliquely ovoid, laterally compressed, 0.5-0.6 mm long. Ovules remain shriveled in the basal five or six florets, whereas terminal florets contain younger stages of ovules and stamens.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

Top of page This is a monotypic genus widely distributed throughout north-east Africa and western Asia from Algeria to India (Bor, 1960). It is noted as native to the Sudanian region of Africa, from Chad to Somalia and the Middle East, and was introduced into South-East Asia (Feinburn 1986, Aronson, 1989).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
CambodiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2003
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2003
-HainanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2003
-HenanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2003
Cocos IslandsPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2003
IndiaPresentNative Invasive USDA-ARS, 2003
-AssamPresentNative Not invasive Mitra, 1958
-BiharPresentNative Not invasive Dabadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973
-DelhiPresentNative Not invasive Maheshwari, 1963
-GujaratPresentNative Not invasive Dabadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973
-HaryanaPresentNative Not invasive Gupta and Singh, 1982
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Das et al., 1993
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Not invasive Bambar, 1916
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Not invasive Bambar, 1916
-KarnatakaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Dabadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973
-MaharashtraPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-MeghalayaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-OdishaPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-RajasthanPresentNative Not invasive Bhandari, 1978
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeShukla, 1996
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Singh, 1994
-West BengalPresentNative Not invasive Dabadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973; Singh and Gupta, 1992
IranPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
IraqPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
IsraelPresentNative Not invasive Feinburn, 1986; USDA-ARS, 2003
JordanPresentNative Not invasive Feinburn, 1986
MyanmarPresentIntroduced Invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2003; USDA-ARS, 2003
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
VietnamPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2003
YemenPresentNative Not invasive Al Kouthayri & Hassan, 1998

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
ChadPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
EgyptPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
EritreaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
EthiopiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
LibyaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MauritaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
SomaliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
SudanPresentNative Not invasive Feinburn, 1986; USDA-ARS, 2003
TunisiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page There is no specific information available regarding the introduction of D. bipinnata. Within the native range, spread appears to concern rapid increases in the density of D. bipinnata in disturbed sites and some dispersal to new habitats, rather than any introduction to new, exotic locations. For example, where timber extraction and overgrazing have caused degradation of sal (Shorea robusta) forests in India, the area damaged has become dominated by D. bipinnata. It becomes dominant after regular cutting, burning and grazing in Phragmites/Saccharum/Imperata grasslands of northern India (Dabadghao and Shankarnarayan, 1973) and in managed grassland plots of Imperata cylindrica subjected to annual cutting and burning (Peet et al, 1999). On reclaimed, salt-affected soils planted with Leptochloa fusca, D. bipinnata was found to be invasive possibly due to allelopathic effects on seed germination (Mahmood et al., 1989).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page There is a possibility of D. bipinnata being introduced as a result of seed contamination of crop seeds or by agricultural practices that break the rhizome system into fragments. It is a noxious weed. Information is not available on the spread and impacts of D. bipinnata and as such it may not yet appear on lists of regulated weeds and thus may become introduced to new areas.

Habitat

Top of page D. bipinnata is common in wastelands and abandoned agricultural fields (Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990), also is found on sand dunes, inland brackish wetlands and marshes and on reclaimed salt-affected wastelands (Mahmood et at., 1989). It frequently grows in dry places and open wastelands subject to periodic disturbance such as cutting, grazing and burning. In dry and hot conditions, D. bipinnata flourishes well, forming big tussocks in dry-sandy areas.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details
Natural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details
Deserts Present, no further details
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page It is a common weed in agricultural fields of sorghum (Sorghum vulgare), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), fallow fields of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and Pennisetum typhoides and on bunds in rice (Oryza sativa) fields. D. bipinnata has been reported as a dominant weed in agricultural fields (Hussain and Rashid, 1989) and in sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) fields in Sukkur district, Pakistan (Qureshi et al., 2001). D. bipinnata is a serious weed of various agricultural crops on the Batina coast in Arabia (Parker, 1973) and in the Wadi Hadramout valley, Yemen (Al Kouthayri and Hassan, 1998). It is also commonly found in grasslands, tree plantations and agroforestry systems.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

The chromosome number is 2n=20 (Mehra et al., 1968; Christopher and Abraham, 1974).

Physiology and Phenology

Flowering and fruiting occurs from May to July, maturing from August to October. On moderately alkaline calcareous soils, the monsoon rains trigger active growth of D. bipinnata in June and plant biomass attains a peak during the rainy season in September (Gupta and Singh, 1982; Sinha et al., 1991). The leaves senesce with the onset of dry weather during winter months from November to February followed by a spurt of growth in summer months due to regeneration of shoots from the perennial rhizomes (Gupta and Singh, 1982). Annual net primary productivity was found to be 1080-2453 g/m² (Gupta and Singh, 1982; Sinha et al., 1991). Being a deep-rooted grass, 52-55% of the root biomass remains concentrated in the top 10 cm of the soil, whereas the rhizomes and roots penetrate deeper than 1.5 m (Gupta and Singh, 1982).

D. bipinnata exhibits a C4 photosynthetic pathway (Aronson, 1989; Malik et al., 1991; Watson and Dallwitz, 1992), as are more grass species found in the moderately temperate and moist Himalayan region near Palampur, India (Das and Vats, 1993). On the basis of acetylene reduction assay and 15N natural abundance, associative nitrogen fixation has been reported in D. bipinnata growing in saline and sodic soils in Lahore, Pakistan (Malik et al., 1991). The occurrence of D. bipinnata has been positively correlated with increased ion exchangeable, notably with increased sodium, chlorine, calcium and magnesium ion content. On sodic soil, the soil alkalinity was found to have little adverse effect on the roots of the D. bipinnata (Joshi et al., 1985). It is considered to have a salt tolerance up to 5.6 dS/m (Aronson, 1989), though seed germination decreased in response to increasing salinity levels from 3-40 dS/m (Mahmood et al., 1996). The presence of polyphenol oxidase activity in alkali soil halophytes including D. bipinnata indicated its significance in the salt resistance of plants (Sharma et al., 1983).

Reproductive Biology

In north Indian populations of D. bipinnata, there are abortive embryo sacs due to female gametophyte degeneration, possibly due to self-incompatibility caused by the failure of the pollen tube to reach the embryo sac (Bhanwara, 1986). This study signifies the importance of understanding further the reproductive biology of D. bipinnata in relation to its widespread occurrence in India, Africa and South-East Asia.

Environmental Requirements

It is widely distributed in arid and semi-arid regions of India having an annual rainfall of 250-750 mm (Dabadghao and Sharkarnarayan, 1973). It is, however, very drought tolerant and known to survive where annual rainfall may be as low as 54 mm, and will also be found in higher rainfall zones, above 1000 mm. It is very tolerant of saline soils (Khan et al., 1989; Mahmood et al., 1994), alkaline and calcareous soils (Gupta and Singh, 1982; Gupta et al., 1990; Sinha et al., 1991) and highly sodic soils (Singh, 1994; Kaur et al., 2002a,b). On alluvial saline soils with restricted water penetration, D. bipinnata constitutes the dominant weed, which occurs in dense patches (Mahmood et al., 1994).

Associations

In the Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pardesh, India, D. bipinnata occurs commonly as undergrowth in dry deciduous sal (Shorea robusta) forest as well as in mesophyllous grasslands along with other perennial grasses such as Themeda aurndinacea, Saccharum spontaneum, S. bengalensis, Vetiveria zizanioides, Dichanthium annulatum and Echinochloa spp. In degraded forest land in the Siwalik Hills between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, India, it grows along with Eulaliopsis binata, Arundinella setosa, Phragmites karka, Hetero pogon contortus and Cenchrus ciliaris (Gupta et al., 1996). D. bipinnata has been reported as undergrowth in mixed plantations of Dalbergia sissoo, Acacia nilotica and Eucalyptus camadulensis in Lal Suhanra National Park, Bahawalpur, Pakistan (Hameed et al., 2002).

It is an important constituent of the Banni grasslands of the Kutch district of Gujarat, India (Sastry et al., 2003), where it occurs in five main associations, Desmostachya/Cenchrus, Desmostachya/Eragrostis, Desmostachya/Heylandia, Sporobolus, and Isleima/Dichanthium (Pandya and Sidha, 1987). D. bipinnata occurs as the most prominent constituent of the grassland sites at Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India (Gupta, 1987). In grassy savannas of Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India, D. bipinnata grows along with Prosopis cineraria, Acacia nilotica, Capparis sepieria, Vetiveria zizanioides and Cynodon dactylon. D. bipinnata has been reported to grow in saline tracts of Delhi, India and grows in association with Sporobolus marginatus and Alhagi maurorum (Maheshwari, 1963).

On the young alluvial soils along river courses subjected to erosion and deposition of soil, D. bipinnata and Phragmites species grow along with Saccharum benghalense, S. spontaneum (Gupta and Saxena, 1972). In the swampy areas of sunderbans, tallgrass patches of Imperata cylindrica, Phragmites karka and Saccharum spontaneum are associated with low forests and tall grasses such as D. bipinnata, Saccharum arundinaceum and Vetiveria zizanioides (Dabadghoa and Shankarnaryan, 1973; Singh and Gupta, 1992). It occurs as a dominant halophyte in saline areas of Peshawar district of Pakistan where it occurs with Sueda fructicosa, Juncellus laevigatus, Saccharum spontaneum and Cynodon dactylon (Sarir et al., 1986). D. bipinnata is often found associated with other serious perennial weeds such as Avena fatua, Cynodon doctylon and Cyperus rotundus in parts of its native range (Al Kouthayri and Hassan, 1998).

Termites are an important group of soil fauna affecting decomposition rates of litter and roots (Gupta et al., 1981). On the decomposition leaf litter of D. bipinnata (kept on the soil surface and buried at 5 cm depth), the predominant species of fungi were Acrophialophora fusispora, Aspergillus spp, Curvurtlaria spp, Penicillium spp. and Pericornia minuisima (Aneja and Mehotra, 1979, 1980). In D. bipinnata grasslands on moderate to highly alkaline soils, the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhization of roots varied from 14 to 72%, the spore count averaged 507 to 372 spores per 100 g of soil, and belonged to species of Acaulospora, Entrophospora, Endogone, Glomus, Gigaspora and Sclerocystis (Neeraj, 2001; Neeraj et al., 2003). The diazotrophs isolated from the roots of D. bipinnata included Citrobacter freundi and Enterobacter agglomerans (Malik et al., 1991).

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration04number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall541016mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page D. bipinnata is infected by a wide range of species including Puccinia spp., Striiformis spp. and Uromyces eragrostidis. Cervoannulatus graminous (Tylenchinae) has been reported from soils under D. bipinnata (Bajaj, 1997). Laprius ikrami is a new report of Pentatomidae collected from Punjab, Pakistan (Ahmad and Kamaluddin, 1987). In the D. bipinnata dominated grassland, herbivores constitute 80% of the total insect population and predators accounted for 11% (Kaushal and Vats, 1987); the total density and biomass of Orthoptera being maximum in rainy season (Kaushal and Vats, 1984; 1986). Two new insect species, Nazeeriana angulatus and N. dirhynehus were described, collected from D. bipinnata in Pakistan (Kamaludin and Ahmad, 1988). The phytophagous insects Heiroglyphus banian and Belenois sp. lay eggs on D. bipinnata and fed on this species (Vats and Kaushal, 1981). D. bipinnata is an alternative host of the sorghum stem fly, Atherigona varia var. soccata Rondani (Anthomyidae: Diptera) which breeds on the plant and remains active throughout the year (Moiz and Naqvi, 1969).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Natural Dispersal (Biotic)

Propagation is mainly vegetative from the underground rhizomes. Short-distance dispersal occurs due to wind, whereas long-distance dispersal is mainly achieved by water. The broken rhizome fragments spread along waterways, as D. bipinnata commonly grows along riverbanks, streams and channels. Under dry conditions, high winds may blow the aerial parts as a 'tumble weed', scattering seed and vegetative fragments along the way.

Agricultural Practices

The roots cut by cultivation equipment form small pieces which can produce plants in new locations.

Accidental Introduction

The contamination of seed crops with D. bipinnata seed could be responsible for long-distance distribution to different countries and continents.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehicles Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes
Soil, sand and gravel Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Fruits (inc. pods)
Leaves
Roots
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Biodiversity (generally) Positive
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Positive
Human health Positive
Livestock production Positive
Native fauna Positive
Native flora Positive
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel Negative

Impact

Top of page D. bipinnata is one of the ten most important weeds in Pakistan (Ghafoor et al., 1987) as well as being reported as an aggressive weed from agricultural systems in India. Due to its presence with many other weed species, separating the economic cost of this species individually is not possible, although even as a component it may be expected to be considerable.

Environmental Impact

Top of page There appear to be environmental benefits from the presence of D. bipinnata, particularly in sodic and alkaline soils. Productivity and nutrient cycling patterns in a D. bipinnata grassland (soil pH 9.3, ESP 32) showed that sodic soils are potentially productive under this adaptive native vegetation and the protection of native vegetation on wastelands affected by soil sodicity could improve soil organic matter (Gupta et al., 1990). The integration of D. bipinnata with agroforestry species has been shown to improve the physical, chemical and biological properties of sodic soils (Kaur et al., 2002a,b).

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page D. bipinnata in its native range of distribution grows well in association with other plants. Though it becomes spread in wastelands, there are no reports of D. bipinnata having adverse impact on biodiversity.

Social Impact

Top of page The coarse leaves and very sharp tillers can cause small painful cuts when in contact with the skin; these are a nuisance to farmers especially during manual weeding operations.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page This grass branches from the rootstock, sending out rhizomes in all directions and making it an excellent sand binder (Bhandari, 1990; Kaushik, 1983). It is used for fibre in Sudan, the culms used for thatching and making rough rope and brooms. The pulp (35% of total biomass) is suitable for papermaking; however, the fibre strength is lower than that of sisal and sun hemp (Chand and Agnihotri, 1993). Young shoots have a crude protein content of 6.75% and are a good fodder for buffaloes in arid zones. On saline wastelands and sandy deserts in Pakistan, D. bipinnata along with Cynodon dactylon, Atriplex spp., Sesbania and Prosopis spp. serve as potential forage crops (Ahmad et al., 1994). In Varanasi, India, the annual net production of D. bipinnata protected from grazing was 8.3 t/ha (Ambasht and Tothill, 1986). Silvopastoral agroforestry systems comprising indigenous trees and grasses such as Dichanthium annulatum, Sporobolus spp, and D. bipinnata have been suggested as having an important role for controlling soil erosion and revegetating areas in northern India (Chinnamani, 1994). On a highly sodic soil at Saraswati, Kurukshetra, India, integration of Acacia nilotica, Dalbergia sissoo and Prosopis juliflora with D. bipinnata resulted in an increased diversity of plant species, particularly of forbs. D. bipinnata can also be used for the reclamation of saline soils in Pakistan (Alam, 2002) and has been grown for this purpose with Prosopis juliflora, Acacia leucophloea and Tamarix spp. under rainfed conditions in India (Singh, 1994). Medicinally, it is diuretic, used to treat urinogenital disorders and dysentery as well as being a mild stimulant. D. bipinnata has been mentioned as an important medicinal plant in the Atri-samhita associated with mythological significance in India (Sensarma, 2000), as well as being used in rituals and Hindu ceremonies (Singh et al., 1990).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page This genus is closely related to Eragrostis spp., differing mainly by the structure of the inflorescence.

Prevention and Control

Top of page Cultural Control

In West Africa, Vetveria zizanioides is used as a border to prevent the spread of D. bipinnata into gardens and cultivated fields (World Bank, 1990).

Mechanical Control

In orchards in Israel, mechanical cultivation after 3-4 weeks has been found to be effective for controlling D. bipinnata (Oren, 1988). Mechanical methods are preferred for controlling D. bipinnata in cotton fields and by manual weeding in fruit orchards in India.

Chemical Control

Applications of herbicides control D. bipinnata on the bunds of rice fields. In orchards in northern India, perennial grasses such as Imperata cylindrica, D. bipinnata and Saccharum munja have been controlled effectively by application of dalapon + paraquat (Joolka et al., 1991). On non-cultivated land, an application of imazarpyr during winter effectively controlled D. bipinnata during the following summer (Anon., 1985). In vineyards, citrus and other fruit orchards, glufosinate controlled many invasive weeds including D. bipinnata (Bhat, 1985).

References

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Ahmad I; Kamaluddin S, 1987. A new genus and two species of Myrocheini Stal (Pentatomidae: Pentatominp) from Pakistan with a note on their relationships. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 19(3):283-290

Ahmad R; Ismail S; Bodla MA; Chaudhry MR; Squires VR; Ayoub AT, 1994. Potentials for cultivation of halophytic crops on saline wastelands and sandy deserts in Pakistan to overcome feed gap for grazing animals. Halophytes as a resource for livestock and for rehabilitation of degraded lands. Proceedings of a international workshop on halophytes for reclamation of saline wastelands and as a resource for livestock problems and prospects, Nairobi, Kenya, 22-27 November 1992, 223-230.

Al Kouthayri GR; Hassan AA, 1998. Survey of major weeds in Hadramout Valley, Yemen. Arab Journal of Plant Protection, 16(1):19-26.

Alam SM, 2002. Utilization of salt-lands: salinity poses distinct physiological threat to plants. Gulf Pakistan Economist, 16-22 September, 2002.

Ambasht RS; Tothill JC; Mott JC, 1986. Primary productivity and soil and nutrient stability of an Indian savanna land. Ecological and management of the world's savannas, 217-219.

Aneja KR; Mehrotra RS, 1980. Studies on microorganisms decomposing aboveground parts of "the grass' (Desmostachya bipinnata). Proceedings of National Academy of Science, India, 50:12-20.

Aneja; KR; Mehrotra RS, 1979. Qualitative and quantitative changes in the microflora on Desmostachya bipinnata litter buried in soil. Botanical Progress, 2:50-54.

Anon., 1985. Imazapyr - a new herbicide for weed control on non-cultivated land. Phytoparasitica, 13:238.

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